Israel-Hamas WarFirst Hostages Are Released; Truce Holds as More Aid Enters Gaza

Some two dozen hostages, including Thais and Israelis kidnapped in the Hamas-led assault on Israel, were freed after the start of a four-day cease-fire, and dozens of trucks carrying aid, including fuel, entered Gaza.

Some two dozen hostages held in Gaza, including Thai nationals and Israelis, were released from captivity on Friday, the Egyptian and Qatari governments said, the first people to be freed under a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that took effect hours earlier.

The hostages were transferred to Egypt and some were expected to be moved to Israel for medical care as part of a prisoner exchange in which 39 Palestinian prisoners and detainees were released from Israeli custody on Friday.

After early statements by governments involved in the release that 13 Israelis and 12 Thais were freed, the governments of Qatar and Egypt clarified that there were 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino. The Israelis were all women and children.

The start of the four-day truce brought a measure of hope for families missing loved ones, a brief reprieve for Gazans battered by seven weeks of war and a faint sense of optimism for a change in the trajectory of the conflict. Israel and Hamas have said they would abide by the deal, but past truces between the sides have often fallen apart, and both have signaled that they would continue fighting when the pause expires. 

Still, the cease-fire has already enabled the delivery of more aid supplies to Gaza, where roughly two-thirds of its 2.2 million people have been displaced by the war. By evening, 150 trucks carrying humanitarian aid had entered Gaza from Egypt, according to a spokesman for the Gaza side of the border crossing, including four carrying cooking gas and three carrying fuel. That is one of the biggest aid deliveries to Gaza since the start of the war — but still falls significantly short of the 500 trucks that typically entered the territory every day before the fighting.

Here’s what to know:

  • The cease-fire deal, brokered by Qatar in weeks of talks, calls for Hamas to return 50 of the women and children taken hostage during its Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, and for Israel to release 150 imprisoned or detained Palestinian women and teenagers. The exchange would occur in phases across the four days of the cease-fire. Read more about the deal.
  • Qatar brokered a separate deal with Hamas to free the Thai hostages, who were agricultural workers living in southern Israel. They were among scores of foreign nationals who were abducted alongside Israelis on Oct. 7. 
  • The Israeli prime minister’s office released the names of the Israeli hostages who were freed, including four young children and nine women, most of them over age 70.
  • Qatar said that 39 Palestinians jailed in Israel, including 24 women and 15 male teenagers, were freed on Friday. But hundreds of Palestinians were still waiting to see some of those released on Friday evening outside of Ofer prison in Ramallah, and their anger was growing. Plumes of tear gas, fired by Israeli security forces to disperse the crowd, hung in the air. 

Reporting was contributed by Vivian Yee and Iyad Abuheweila in Cairo; Hiba Yazbek in Jerusalem; Rawan Sheikh Ahmad in Haifa, Israel; and Johnatan Reiss in Tel Aviv.

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